UW-Madison COMARTS 250 - Constructing a Thesis Statement

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Constructing a Thesis Statement From actual course examples adapted with Writing Across the Curriculum UW Madison Writing Center and OWL Purdue Writing Center input and examples A What is a thesis statement Your thesis statement is the cornerstone of your analysis and Sentence Zero for the whole of your essay it holds your paper together and shows your reader where your paper is going to go If you construct a good thesis you can subsequently construct a good introductory paragraph And with a good introductory paragraph you outline the rest of your paper helping you construct a quality essay A thesis statement Defines the paper s argument Outlines the main points you ll address in your paper and the basic relationship between these Introduces the kinds of evidence or reasoning that will be used to back up the argument points and only the main points it does not cover points that you will not address in your paper Is specific explicit and direct Can be more than one sentence and often needs to be if it s detailed enough A few examples An analysis of the college admission process reveals one challenge facing counselors accepting students with high test scores or students with strong extracurricular backgrounds The paper should go on to explain the analysis of the admissions process and the challenge facing admissions counselors High school graduates should be required to take a year off to pursue community service projects before entering college in order to increase their maturity and global awareness The paper should go on to argue and give evidence to support the claim that students should pursue community projects before college B Ok but how do you know that you have a thesis statement and if it s a good one Having a solid thesis statement is the most important step in your paper Without a clear thesis statement most papers will suffer from Merely describing texts in the introduction rather than articulating a specific thesis that makes an argument about those texts Making lots of good individual points without figuring out the relationship between those points so that the paper is more like a list than an argument Veering off course and presenting arguments topics or evidence that isn t foregrounded in the introduction and specifically in the thesis statement C Writing a thesis statement in 25 000 steps Kidding Mostly 1 The first thing you want to do is draft an initial thesis topic You re going to edit and rewrite this a number of times to get to your final thesis statement so get comfortable with this idea With this initial thesis topic don t worry about perfection or how good it is just jot down your thoughts in sentence form We re going to push on this topic to get to a well constructed thesis statement The color yellow is pleasing to students who are under mid term exam duress 1 2 Next ask yourself why to make sure that you have the seeds of an argument If your sentence doesn t answer this you need to add it in Often a conjunction like because but however although or others will tee up this why The color yellow is pleasing to students who are under mid term exam duress because research demonstrates that yellow has a calming effect 3 Ok Now ask yourself what evidence supports this Let s add that in and tie it directly to the thesis topic This evidence should be the main few sources you used to generate your key argument do not include all of your sources from your entire paper overwhelming According to Johnson et al the color yellow is pleasing to students who are under mid term exam duress because neurobiologists Lader and Shills demonstrate that yellow has a calming effect 4 Just to be sure make everything as specific as possible According to Johnson et al the color yellow is pleasing to college aged students who are under mid term exam duress because neurobiologists Lader and Shills demonstrate that yellow has a calming effect on the central nervous system 5 Good Then think of what general category this thesis topic fits into the course topic a particular essay prompt etc This category should be vague ish If you were to categorize your topic in an encyclopedia under what heading would it fall We re going to make sure to link your thesis topic to this category to ensure that your reader understands how your thesis relates to this topical category and how it contributes to OR argues against current thought Remember you might need to rework your original sentence structure along the way and remove redundant information While neurobiologists Lader and Shills Johnson et al 2014 demonstrate that yellow has a calming effect on the central nervous system higher education assessment techniques have yet to adopt color therapy for college aged students who are under mid term exam duress 6 Getting somewhere Then ask yourself who cares Think carefully about the answer Why do you care Why should your reader Typically this who cares is the heart of your thesis and your main argument While neurobiologists Lader and Shills Johnson et al 2014 demonstrate that yellow has a calming effect on the central nervous system higher education assessment techniques have yet to adopt color therapy for college aged students who are under mid term exam duress University administration should care about how low level interventions can help students achieve higher test results 7 Now ask yourself how or what s the solution if there is one If no solution think about what ideal action you d attach to the who cares We re going to turn that who cares into an argumentative analytical statement While neurobiologists Lader and Shills Johnson et al 2014 demonstrate that yellow has a calming effect on the central nervous system higher education assessment techniques have yet to adopt color therapy for college aged students who are under mid term exam duress University administration should be required to consider color therapy in learning space design processes in order to optimize low level instructional interventions that can help students achieve higher test results 8 Yay Almost there Make sure to add in any specifics to hit all of the main points you want to address in your paper and to provide your reader a brief outline for your argument Aim for three key points Why Because these can be the three body paragraphs of your paper While neurobiologists Lader and Shills Johnson et al 2014 demonstrate that yellow has a calming effect on the central nervous system higher education assessment techniques have yet to


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UW-Madison COMARTS 250 - Constructing a Thesis Statement

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